Snow! Yes, we woke up to a dusting of snow but it has continued to fall lightly all morning long. Would be the first White Christmas in seven years here if it hangs around another 48 hours.

One of my resolutions for 2018 is going to be to quit complaining about HF band conditions. But that clock hasn’t started yet. Conditions at HF are more often than not abysmal and here lately I often go several days at a time without bothering to turn on the radio.

And we’ve only got what, two more years until we hit rock bottom?

With time off for the holidays I plan to spend some time getting better acquainted with what still works. My burgeoning handheld radio collection. Especially that new Kenwood TH-D74A that I picked up just one month ago and have never used.

The manual that came with it is almost too heavy to pick up. And then there’s the CD that they tucked in with it too. People who author technical manuals like these suffer from being paid by the word and having to defend a really lousy user interface. After all, my iPhone is infinitely more powerful and only came with one instruction: turn it on here.

Determined, I glare at the unopened manual the way a dog looks at a new dish. By the 2nd cup of coffee, I had made it to page eleven and decided to give up. I’m a radio ham with an Extra class license. Surely I can figure out without a manual that if you hold the A, C, and VFO key while powering up you access a new, never before discovered mode of operation…

That’s just not going to work for me. But what did help a LOT was this free downloadable book, TH-D74A Operating Tips Dayton Hamvention 2017 from Kenwood.

At just 39 pages it’s much less daunting, and seems to cut directly to the chase. Besides, I’ve still got the big manual, for those long, lonely nights when I want to know what happens when pressing FOUR buttons while powering down.